Distinction Tracks (Tucson)

Distinction tracks are educational paths that help students at the College of Medicine – Tucson pursue interests in global health, integrative medicine, or research. These tracks integrate with the basic College of Medicine curriculum, and enrich it through special clinical, academic and research opportunities.

Students who complete a distinction track within the MD program have this achievement recorded in their transcript and Deans Letters. The three distinction tracks have different requirements, but all require that students be in good academic standing.

First and second-year medical students who want to pursue a distinction track should contact the track director and the Dean of Student Affairs.

Download Distinction Track Elective Courses PDF

Bilingual Medical Spanish Distinction Track
The bilingual medical Spanish distinction track is a longitudinal program designed to enhance the medical Spanish communication skills of medical students entering with intermediate to advanced proficiency level. Instructional activities throughout the four-years of medical school emphasize the development of:

  • Oral/Aural Proficiency in Medical Spanish
  • Cultural Competence
  • Core Medical Competencies

The main goal of the program is to graduate cohorts of physicians who are competent to work as bilingual Spanish-English healthcare providers. Students enrolled in this track will be better prepared to serve the healthcare needs of Limited English Proficiency, Spanish-speaking patients.


Community Service Distinction Track
A medical student who wishes to receive a notation of Distinction in Community Service needs to complete both the Commitment to Underserved People (CUP) I and II electives with 2 credits each (90 hours per CUP elective for a total of 180 hours). Students must also write a 10 page reflective and cited paper related to an issue they encountered during this service. The topic of this paper needs to be approved by the distinction track director.


Global Health Distinction Track
The global health distinction track introduces students to the interdisciplinary challenges of clinical and public health care in developing nations. Students will:

  • Apply medical knowledge to health care situations around the world
  • Learn from colleagues and global health experts abroad
  • Practice rigorous, evidence-based medicine
  • Overcome obstacles to health care in resource-constrained conditions

Students involved in this track return better prepared to advocate for health equity and to provide care to patients and communities in Arizona, United States, and around the world.


Integrative Medicine Distinction Track
The integrative medicine distinction track emphasizes prevention and healing-oriented medicine throughout all four years of medical school. Students in this track will:

  • Study the philosophy and practice of integrative medicine
  • Apply integrative medicine modalities in the conventional medical system
  • Participate in special topic sessions
  • Develop care plans in concert with patients
  • Learn from internationally-recognized experts on integrative medicine


Leadership and Innovation in Healthcare Distinction Track
The Leadership and Innovation in Healthcare Distinction track will provide the student a structured yet flexible, faculty‐mentored experience to explore many facets of healthcare education, administration, finance, delivery and policy. Students in this track will:

  • Demonstrate skills in leadership and professionalism (e.g. leadership styles, change management, conflict resolution, inter-professional team dynamics, use of organizational management tools)
  • Describe the U.S. healthcare system and its components
  • Explain how the healthcare system interfaces with public health
  • Describe approaches to achieve quality improvement and patient safety in healthcare
  • Describe how the health system is structured at their home institution and what its strategic plan is
  • Discuss the role of health technology in healthcare innovation and delivery of value based care
  • Continue leadership activities in healthcare innovation, such as by incorporating new models of care into private practice, assuming a leadership position within a healthcare organization, or starting their own healthcare company


Medical Education Distinction Track
The Medical Education Distinction Track helps students who are interested in pursuing careers in medical education to develop knowledge and experience in both the theory and the practice of education. The program offers students a strong background in education, giving them a head start to teaching during residency. The track’s curriculum includes required core coursework and non-curricular activities, elective coursework or equivalent activities, and a capstone project and presentation in Year 4. Each student in the track is matched with a faculty mentor who will advise the student for all 4 years in the program. Every student will maintain a reflective journal related to his or her experiences in medical education through their 4 years in the program.


Research Distinction Track
The research distinction track offers students the opportunity to explore medical research while attending medical school. This track is designed to engage medical students at the forefront of scientific medicine and to engage in their own research interests. Students in this track will:

  • Critically review published medical literature
  • Design and implement an extensive research proposal
  • Author reports and publishable articles
  • Experience the scientific method as a process, not an abstraction

Students who complete this distinction track are equipped to stand at the forefront of medicine as scientific physicians. In doing so, they will contribute in meaningful ways to improving the quality of health care in our region, nation, and world.


Rural Health Distinction Track
Building upon College's nationally-recognized Rural Health Professions Program (RHPP), this track fosters students' passion for rural healthcare. RHPP requirements are prerequisites for this distinction track.

Throughout their 4 years at the College of Medicine, students participating in the Rural Health track will spend a minimum of 16 weeks working with assigned preceptors in rural communities across Arizona. As a result of their extended experience, students learn first-hand the rewards and challenges of providing healthcare in a rural setting. Students can customize their participation by selecting among three areas of concentration: American Indian healthcare, Border healthcare and Rural Arizona healthcare.

In addition to clinical activities, students will write a researched, referenced capstone paper on an issue related to rural healthcare.